Sunday, 20 December 2015

Young People from Mangochi District Applaud YONECO for Conducting SRH Outreach Activities in their Areas

Young people from the areas of Traditional Authorities (T/As) Bwananyambi and Chowe hailed YONECO for conducting Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) outreach activities right in their communities. The youth asserted that they are always in need of both SRH services and information but their efforts to access information and services are prevented by long distances to the available delivery points.
Young people from Chisopi village indicated that a nearest delivery point is Nkumba Health Center which is 9 Km away from their area. The young people also revealed that young girls are getting early and unwanted pregnancies due to lack of information and access to SRH services.
The fact that young people from the targeted areas are indeed in need of SRH services manifested itself with the uptake of the services that were being provided during the outreach activity. Many young people went for HIV Counselling and Testing (HTC) and accessed SRH information as well as services
While appreciating the good work which YONECO does for young people, a Headmaster from one of the Primary Schools that are in the area bemoaned the increase in the number of child marriage cases. The Headmaster stated that child marriages are greatly contributing to high school dropout rates of girls in the area.  He further added that many of the adolescent girls who drop out of school are married off to men who work and stay in South Africa.
The Headmaster also indicated that he was very optimistic that providing the adolescents with SRH information and services is a prolific move that will help in reducing the prevalence of teenage pregnancies as well as school dropouts as a matter of consequence.

With support from UNFPA, YONECO has been implementing a number of initiatives that are aimed at enhancing Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRH&R) as well as the welfare of young people in Nkhata Bay, Mangochi, Machinga, Chiradzulu and Chikwawa districts.  The package of the SRH Outreach Activities for Young People include; HIV Counselling and Testing (HTC), providing contraceptives as well as accurate and age-appropriate information about sex and sexuality. 

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

2015 World AIDS Day: Malawi along the Path to “Zero”

1 December is the World AIDS Day and this is the day when people across the globe show their support for people living with HIV and AIDS, unite in the fight against the disease, increase awareness and fight stigma. As we commemorate this day under the international theme that started in 2011 - “Getting to Zero”, there is need to reflect on what has worked, what has not and why such strategies did not work or worked.

Among other milestones, Malawi has managed to reduce the number of new infections from 130,000 recorded in 1994 to 32,000 in 2013. This is not a mean achievement and this landmark stands as proof that we can really “Get to Zero!” Furthermore, Malawi has also reduced the number of AIDS related deaths from 94,000 per year, as recorded in 2004, to 48, 000 deaths in 2013.

As stated in June, 2014 by the Chairperson of the National AIDS Commission (NAC), Mara Kumbweza Banda; despite these achievements, 32,000 new HIV infections every year is very high and the national HIV prevalence rate of 10.3% and incidence rate is still high as well.

As a country, Malawi is making some tremendous strides on issues pertaining to HIV management and other related issues. However, there is also a need to deal with HIV-related stigma and discrimination. The prejudice, negative attitudes and abuses directed towards people who are living with HIV and AIDS are just unacceptable and have no place in the democratic Malawi.

Some people living with HIV are being denied treatment in hospitals. Some more are being denied access to benefit from the government’s Farm Input and Fertilizer Subsidy Programme among other heartrending accounts of people living with HIV. Something has to be done in order to ensure that such pervasive negative attitudes are dealt with.

YONECO’s vision is “a self-reliant HIV and AIDS free society that respects democratic values and principles”. Any kind of stigma is an undesirable element in any society and the organisation works tirelessly to raise people’s awareness on the consequences of stigma and discrimination. YONECO believes that we can live in a free society where people are not being stigmatised on the basis of their circumstances in life be it their HIV status or what-have-you. Stigma is the last thing that is needed in battle against further spreading of HIV infection as well as mitigating the impact of AIDS.

There is hope and there is need to ensure that people who are HIV positive are starting treatment in good time. Malawi commemorated the World AIDS Day under the theme "Getting to Zero is Possible with Early HIV Treatment. Act Now".

Today, over a million Malawians are living with HIV and out of these, 310,000 are young people below the age of 24!”
Together we can “get to Zero!”